HEADQUARTERS, Gordonsville, Va., May 16, 1862.
Brigadier General L. O'B. BRANCH, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: The following dispatch was received here this evening at 2.57 o'clock:
CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, May 16, 1862.
GENERAL COMMANDING AT GORDONSVILLE:
GENERAL: The enemy is in force, about 6,000, at Flint Hill, Rappahannock County, 18 miles from this point.
Your obedient servant,
GEO. A. BAXTER,
Captain, Commanding Outpost.
(Above sent to General Ewell.)
HEADQUARTERS, Richmond, Va., May 17, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: A dispatch from Colonel Munford, at Gaines' Cross-Roads, to General Branch at Gordonsville, dated the 16th instant, was forwarded to me to-day. Colonel Munford states that General Shields is advancing on Warrenton with 6,000 men, thirty-six pieces of artillery, and a very small cavalry force. He crossed at Chester Gap from Front Royal, and it is generally believed that his destination is Fredericksburg or Culpeper Court-House. This information will explain to you the movement of the troops previously reported as having marched from New Market toward Front Royal, of which Shields' brigade was part.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Augusta County, Virginia, May 17, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Department of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: My information is that Banks is fortifying at Strasburg, and that Shields has crossed the Blue Ridge, via Flint Hill, with 6,000 infantry, thirty pieces of artillery, and a few cavalry. General Ewell has sent me a dispatch of this date stating that Shields has crossed the Blue Ridge, and that he will, in accordance with orders received from you, do likewise.
I have been moving down the valley for the purpose of attacking Banks, but the withdrawal of General Ewell's command will prevent my purpose being executed. I will move on toward Harrisonburg, and if you desire me to cross the Blue Ridge please let me know be telegraph. My design was to try and defeat Banks, and then, by threatening Fremont's rear, prevent him from advancing up the South Branch. He probably has near 17,000 troops near Moorefield and Franklin.
Rosecrans is with him.